If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you know that a lot of people want to sleep with Pokemon (and we can't stop ranking them). Nintendo now has a way to do that officially with their free sleep-tracking app Pokemon Sleep. What is Pokemon Sleep anyway? Well, it is not quite as innocuous or simply cutesy as you might think.
Pokemon Sleep is fairly straightforward, but that doesn’t stop it from shotgunning tutorials at you when you start – I mean, it is a Pokemon game after all.
What is Pokemon Sleep?
The meat of it is this: you sleep, receive a score and some currency based on the length of your sleep, and are then greeted with a selection of Pokemon based on the type of sleep you had in the night – Dozing, Snoozing, Slumbering, or Balanced with all three.
The various Pokemon have cute animations often stylized with something unique to them, like Squirtle sleeping in its shell. Some sleep with unique and rare animations, which add to your sleep score and to your sleeping Pokedex.
That’s right, you collect pictures of the various sleeping styles of Pokemon on top of the Pokemon themselves.
To collect said Pokemon and have it join your little sleeping camp, you need to befriend them with biscuits. Every day, you get a free biscuit that will give you three hearts of friendship with a Pokemon. Once you hit five (some take more), they’ll level up and you’ve “caught” them through the power of friendship and bribery.
As you can see, you’re not likely to get a Pokemon to join you every day, unless you're lucky enough to have some biscuits of your own. Not only that, you might invest a biscuit or two in a Pokemon and not see them again for a few days.
After, you’re taken to the default camping area with a sleeping Snorlax and whatever Pokemon you have roaming around. Over time, they collect ingredients used in cooking and berries to feed Snorlax. You can go back throughout the day to unload what they've collected.
The goal is to keep shoveling food into Snorlax, continuing to fatten it up. With each rank up, the Snorlax gets bigger and the bigger the multiplier you’ll have for scores when sleeping later on.
There’s some more things going on, but that’s the basic gist of Pokemon Sleep. Yes, Pokemon in your party level up, can evolve, and you can roll out with different lineups.
Having used it for about a week, collecting Pokemon and getting more things to do feels frustratingly slow. Of course, Pokemon Sleep has some currencies and items I can collect and use my actual money on to make things move faster. So thoughtful.
Pokemon Sleep Wants to Monetize Your Sleep
Pokemon Sleep is incredibly charming and cutesy, with one of my favorite art and animations styles for Pokemon to date. When you start thinking about what it is you're exactly participating in, however, that veneer hides something more sinister.
Like any app you have to wait hours to accumulate some kind of currency or finish some kind of action, Pokemon Sleep has a premium currency to make things go a little smoother for you. There's also a subscription premium service you can pay for as well, offering better deals and other bonuses.
Frustrated by how slow you befriend Pokemon? You can buy something for that. Pokemon leveling too slow? Something for that too. Not enough ingredients to cook a meal? You guessed it, there's something you can buy for that.
You get the idea.
Again, none of that is novel. This is just the age we live in. What makes Pokemon Sleep worse is the context in which you're encouraged to spend money on the app.
We all get to enjoy some set of hours, hopefully at least six hours for most of us, of blissful disconnection. The troubles of life are held at bay and the cacophony of the world is deafened.
Pokemon Sleep is trying to encroach on the only time we all get to recover.
It’s difficult not to picture some executive twirling their mustache - exalting their genius - after scheming up a way to monetize our sleep. Why only try to exploit people for 16-18 hours a day when you can go for the full 24?
Pokemon Sleep Is a Terrible Sleeping App
Granted, I’ll concede the fact that you’re technically awake when/if you buy a microtransaction and that there is an incentive to sleep around eight or so hours to get the max returns each day. Sleeping better is a good thing for most people, sure.
That’s undercut by the fact that Pokemon Sleep does little to nothing to encourage good habits or offers much in the way of education on healthy sleeping habits.
When you cook a meal for your Snorlax, you may be greeted with some general sleeping tip. This may be something like telling you that you should try to wake up at about the same time every day, regardless of the amount of sleep.
There's really no other time Pokemon Sleep offers anything else.
Beyond that, Pokemon Sleep just vomits out some statistics and graphs about your sleep at you. Those can be interesting to see, but there’s no real guidance on what you can do with that information to improve your sleep.
Other apps read that data and give you some actionable context to it, track events like coughing or other potential sleep interruptions, or getting into more detail on how much sleep you get in the various sleep stages.
I can’t help but see Pokemon Sleep as a barebones functioning app with a cutesy style pumped full of opportunities to get you to spend money on the adorable Pokemon.
You know the really sick thing? It works. Of course I want that Slowpoke to become my buddy. But wouldn't ya know it, I didn't have enough biscuits nor any high-quality ones to make it my friend. A few taps and a few bucks though...
Is Pokemon Sleep Worth Using?
So, is Pokemon Sleep just a blatant cash grab with no value? I wouldn’t say that 100%. Just the sheer nature of seeing the frank stats in front of you about your sleeping habits can be a good motivator to do better. If you’re wanting something minimal and like the Pokemon gimmick, you’ll probably enjoy it.
With that said, I can’t recommend it.
We already live in a world of endless manipulation and a constant bombardment of greedy corporations trying to get something from us every minute of the day. Taking something that on face value is to promote better health for its users and then using the super-effective Pokemon styling to encourage people to spend money is pretty gross.
If you want better sleep, use one of the many free apps that have a ton more functionality instead.